Wednesday, 01 April 2015

My Skunk Skin

By Clifford Rothband

Sometimes in life we meet, remember or approach a situation that seems to dwell. Is it a revelation? Did I see the light?, Did I meet our creator?

I was reminded of a bit of wisdom offered me. Question everything, but never look directly into the light! It will blind you.

There is so much that our America can offer. I've sat in discussions with folk who have complained that they have missed out in life. They never achieved their goals, dreams, carriers, jobs, spouses, kids, tangible or intangible items seemed to have alluded their souls.

Now I learned long ago that keeping a positive attitude and laughing at the most mundane occurrences has helped me maintain my mental clarity. Not that anyone has really had a better life than I, or worse. Even those who have lost so much.

Have you noticed that we all seem to have a similar sized head on our shoulders although some of us have different abilities, capacities and above all experiences.

A old friend, a comedienne, salesman extraordinary and advisor or mentor freely offered this advice: "Everybody carries a satchel. Forget what is in it, don't allow it to weigh you down. It's all attitude whether it be feather weight or heavy. It's all in our perception.

When I was a kid in Brooklyn or was it in Miami or maybe New Haven because I did live there for awhile. These school kids made fun of me. The black kids would taunt me that they never met a white man named "Clifford.”

Back in the 1950s, it took me some time to answer these kids back."Hey, I ain't no white man, my father was a member of a tribe. He had relatives in Texas and was brought up in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and we had relatives in Brownsville Texas. We were Apache mix or Malonquin or plains Indians or just members of the Tribes of Israel."

On my 33rd birthday, it started out as a joke for a gift, my super Karing Kousin Karen [oKKK], an Irish Jew. She bought me an American Indian artifact, a wolf skin robe.

From then on, folks started buying me a stuffed fox, deer mounts, trophy heads, a wild boar head, stuffed fish mounts, a Texas deer goat mix head with a beard and horns four feet wide and a jackalope.

When I decided to sell this chateau in the woods, people showed up to look and a few were aghast! A house full of dead animals. I only had 29 and I did not kill any. I am not a hunter nor am I a vegetarian, I still eat meat. Either I eat vegetarian beasts or meat in moderation. One never knows what nutrients we may benefit out of having a varied diet.

So 33 years later we are on the road outside of Beaumont, Texas. I enjoy visiting those roadside junk stands or antique establishments.

The wife and I stop at this ramshackle village of a bunch of self-employed collectors. This was just after a hurricane had hit the area and there was so much collectable junk for sale including mounted animal heads.

Here I am starring at a KKK white, pointed bonnet and brass badges mounted on a wooden shield, like a hunting prize. This fragile, old, dark-chocolate skinned, sweet lady comes up next to me. Lilly? Or Tilly?

She explains that she opened up here after the last hurricane hit New Orleans. "Ain't that a hoot?” she says. “It was a family heirloom, proof that we won. You seem so curious, are you Jewish?"

Well, yes.

“Well, forget the price tag,” she said. “It's a gift. Take it.”

"Shoot” says I. “Just throw it out or give it to a museum. I already have a skunk skin hanging in my cave.”


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink | Email this post

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Supermarket Self-Check

By Claire Jean

The line is slow
Still I won’t go
Where many with ease
Find self-check a breeze
All that I see
In the rush to go
Jobs that once were
Now buried below


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (6) | Permalink | Email this post

Monday, 30 March 2015

A Muse

By Sharon Ostrow who blogs at It's All About the Journey

Written words can get worn out like mismatched socks in the back a dresser drawer; or stale like a loaf of old bread growing moldy in the breadbox. Words are not always adequate to express what needs to be articulated or communicated.

Sometimes my pen collects dust on the desk along with the empty pad of paper or the computer screen stares back at me with its blank screen. Why try? I say to myself. There is no point in this. Who cares what I have to say? What can be expressed that hasn’t been said before?

I would have to spend every minute of my life writing to complete my opus. As it is, my existence with all its distractions keeps knocking me off task. On the other hand if it wasn’t for daily life what would there be to express?

I’ve often thought that the creative process is much like being pregnant; from the conception of an idea, through the labor of writing to the birth of the finished work. I am also protective of my “babies” before I send them out into the world whether they are poems, essays to contests or blog posts.

I have a couple of writer friends who are willing to read my work and offer reflections but not everyone gets as excited as I do. I have emailed posts or links to my blogs to friends or family expecting an immediate response and what I get is, “I haven’t had time to read your email” or “I saved your post to read another time. I am really busy.”

People have busy lives; I have come to terms with that. I continue writing every day on whatever the muse brings forth and she can be elusive or demanding at any given moment. The point is to make myself available.

Memoirs, like all stories, need to have focus; a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is my biggest challenge, this focus.

I imagine there are those who are curious about what it was like living in a religious cult or how I recovered from years of domestic violence as a battered woman. Where do I start?

My personal story has taken on a life of its own and now that I have perspective (and hopefully some wisdom), maybe my story will inspire or give encouragement to another and make a difference is someone’s life.

There is always the question; fact or fiction? Maybe it isn’t a memoir that I should be writing but a work of fiction; changing the names to protect the privacy of those I have known over the years.

No matter. For me it’s all about the journey. I write because I believe words can give hope, healing and voice the universal and serves a purpose that is larger than my individual life.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (6) | Permalink | Email this post

Friday, 27 March 2015

No Milk, No Cookies

By Deb who blogs at Simple Not Easy

In those not-so-long-ago times before the pill, married ladies had few reliable ways of preventing a new little bundle from heaven from arriving like clockwork every 12 to 18 months. One of those ways was to continue nursing the last baby as long as possible.

My grandparent's family already had a healthy contingent of four daughters and three sons, so my Grandma Josie apparently had decided that this was the method for her. So my Uncle Fred was still nursing at the age of five.

He liked it, but the older kids teased him and called him a titty baby so he took pains to get his mother off to himself for his nursing sessions. He preferred to have her go down to the barn and hide out in one of the horse stalls where no one was likely to interrupt them.

In addition to farming, my granddad was pastor of one of the larger Baptist churches in town and one afternoon, a pastor and his wife from the next district over made an unexpected visit in the middle of the afternoon.

Grandma was serving the guests iced tea and cookies when Uncle Fred slipped up beside her and whispered, “I wants some tiddly.”

Grandma elbowed him away and whispered, “Not now, Fred, later. After Mama's company has gone.”

But Fred was insistent so he crowded in again and whined, “But I wants it now.”

Grandma said, in a firm voice. “Fred, you go outside and play now. I'll see to you later.”

Fred, frustrated beyond his five-year-old's capacity to endure, picked up the hem of her skirt, bent over, stuck his head underneath and bit her on the leg! “I wants my tiddly NOW!” he bellowed!

Thus Fred came to be weaned and 11 months later baby Andy arrived, a new bundle of joy from heaven.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (5) | Permalink | Email this post

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Spring Whispers

By Joyce Benedict

warm sun tickles cheek
kissing pine needles glistening
as wind whistles through them.
a robin enjoys the ride

squirrels frenzied feeding
blue jay’s clarion call
competes for feeder’s larder
cardinal shares his seed with mate.

icicles drip from gutters,
all sizes; shapes falling
on melting mounds become
musical notes whose refrain
add counterpoint
to nature’s background songs.

like early rumblings of quakes felt,
a pregnant Earth stirs with contractions
under her frozen mantle.

hibernating bear emerges from
winter’s deep sleep, she also hears
the eternal whispers.
a dormant soul responds
in silent glee.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (3) | Permalink | Email this post

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Packing it in at 75

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wants to pack it in when he turns 75, according to an article he wrote last year in The Atlantic.

It’s a free country; who am I to say he shouldn’t do it? As Scrooge said in A Christmas Carol, it will decrease the surplus population.

It’s noble of him to be willing to get out of the way. Maybe he should receive a Nobel Prize for selflessness.

He explains that he’s only talking about himself and won’t commit suicide; just refuse life-extending medical procedures.

Isn’t it considerate of him? He’s only telling us what he would do. If we insist on trying to stick around, well, that’s our decision.

I have four months to go before I turn 75. I just don’t know what to do!


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (8) | Permalink | Email this post

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

TV Baseball

By Henry Lowenstern

From the easy chair in which I sit,
I cheer when my team gets a hit.
I jump sky high,
but wonder why
with every pitch, they need to spit


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (3) | Permalink | Email this post

Monday, 23 March 2015

Colonoscopy

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

Since both my mother and my grandmother died of colon cancer, my doctor has recommended that I have a colonoscopy every three years.

It’s certainly no picnic to go through this process but it can save one’s life. No doubt my mother could have lived many more years if she had regularly undergone the procedure; by the time the doctors discovered her cancer, it had spread to several vital organs.

By far the worst part of the colonoscopy is drinking a gallon of the “laxative from hell” the night before the procedure. The pharmacist warned me to refrigerate the concoction which, wisely, I did. Who can imagine how vile it must taste at room temperature?

Along with the jug of liquid came several “flavor packets.” I picked lemon lime but I’m certain that none of the flavors would make the stuff drinkable.

Every 10 minutes the patient has to swallow a glass of this awful stuff. The first two or three glasses are merely horrible; the last three are almost impossible to drink. An inventor could make a fortune by patenting a liquid laxative that tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

At the hospital, a nurse stuck four electrode-like patches onto my chest. Unfortunately, she didn’t shave those areas before gluing the electrodes onto my body. The next day, despite soaking in the bathtub for an hour, the patches still were solidly anchored to me. Gritting my teeth, I painfully ripped off the patches - and quite a bit of hair.

Before the procedure begins, the patient is given some kind of twilight medication. Some patients are awake for part of the colonoscopy but thank goodness, the medicine knocks me out for the duration.

About 12 years ago during my first colonoscopy, I believe they overdosed me and as a result, my mind was foggy for several hours after I was dismissed from the hospital (please, no witty remarks about this being my normal state.)

Since the patient can devour nothing but clear liquids for twenty-four hours before the colonoscopy, starvation was setting in by the time I was released from the hospital. My wife Bev took me to a restaurant where we ordered steak tips, French fries and soft drinks.

While waiting for the food to be served, I began to read to my wife an interesting newspaper article but she interrupted me saying that I had already shared that particular item with her while we were in the recovery room.

The next morning, to my surprise, I discovered steak tips in our refrigerator. Naturally, I asked Bev where they had come from; she promptly informed me that they had been brought back from the restaurant the previous day.

I wanted to know why she went to the restaurant without me for I had no memory of the occasion.

During the latest trip to the hospital, I became a human pincushion. A student nurse was assigned to stick the IV needle into one of my veins but unfortunately, after 15 minutes and several punctures, that elusive vein had not yet been tapped. The regular nurse said that I had “rolling” veins.

By this time I wanted to “roll” out of bed and hide but eventually the regular nurse took charge and “caught” that tricky vein. Of course, the student nurse needed to practice; it’s just too bad for me she didn’t pick the patient on the other side of the curtain.

After the last colonoscopy, I didn’t have any memory lapses. After release from the recovery room Bev and I went to the local Bob Evans, where we shared a steak and a salad. Or was it a hamburger and soup? Anyway, after our meal we went to a movie, or a baseball game, or something like that.

I’m certainly glad the twilight drug is administered before the colonoscopy begins. In addition, I think they should send a little vial of that drug home with the patient. Then, when the bill arrives, the patient could numb the pain when he discovers the cost of the procedure.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (9) | Permalink | Email this post

Friday, 20 March 2015

Alzheimer's Finale

[EDITOR'S NOTE: It was in 2007 that I received the first story from William Weatherstone. It and subsequent stories were about his lifelong career as a long-haul trucker.

Two years later, however, Bill's stories took a hearbreaking turn. His wife of many decades became afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and from that point forward, with painful honesty and boundless love for Muriel, Bill has told us how it goes when this happens to beloved spouse.

You can find all his remarkable stories starting here and they are worth your time. This, below, is the most recent.]


By Old Bill Weatherstone who blogs at The Diesel Gypsy

To: The Golden Birches Terrace, Blind River, Ontario.

From: William & Muriel Weatherstone, Blind River, Ontario, (formerly of Elliot Lake, Ontario)

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a note of appreciation.

My wife Muriel has been a resident at your home for a year and a half now, and I want you to know that the service and attention that you provide for us is the best in the North Country.

It has been almost eight years since entering into this dreaded disease. Not knowing anything about what we were entering, I had to get myself into high gear researching what to expect. It was certainly a shocking introduction.

I found that I had three choices and later, five to choose from. During that time the news channels were showing the abuse that residents were receiving in nursing homes and even deaths as a result.

It scared the crap out of me.

I started investigating seriously about my options. I researched every location that I was allowed to apply for including just how far I would have to travel or move to, as well as the staff at all locations.

The radius was about 150 miles. The first inspection was impressive at first glance but me being function before fashion, I delved deeply into staff and then turned them down.

The second inspection was about 100 miles away and after a tour of the facilities I got the impression that they were still living in the late 1800s. That location was discarded as well.

In the meantime, I needed a location for our waiting for acceptance into a home with connection to a hospital. A private location was found in Elliot Lake and my wife was moved in and looked after with great attention.

Next I researched all other options even outside our area. My final decision was made to wait for acceptance into your Golden Birches Terrace. Your service is so good it turned into a six year wait.

I have yet to find a complaint (even trivial) against your service. Also I may add that I have in my daily visits not come across any arguments within the staff. It is a comforting sight for me knowing that you offer the best one could ask for in care and service.

I place my wife of over 50 years in your most capable hands relieving me of tons of stress.

I thank you so much,
Wm. Weatherstone for Muriel (Murt) Weatherstone


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (3) | Permalink | Email this post

Thursday, 19 March 2015

The Bear Encounter

By Sharon Ostrow who blogs at It's All About the Journey

The road into the home site was dusty and full of ruts as it wound through a meadow and down a steep hill into the valley and the moment I saw the little A-frame cabin nestled in a clearing among the Ponderosa pines I knew my spirit had come home. I felt like I had lived there all my life.

China Bend was a sanctuary in the truest sense of the word and I immediately responded to its tranquility, a balm to my soul. It was so still; no traffic noise, no chatter of people. The trees, the sky and the fresh clean air filled me with peace.

Life was profoundly simple and peaceful in this lovely spot and I was able to spend time in solitude, a luxury I had not experienced since my girlhood. Years of being repressed and under the control of others had taken its toll and I was thirsty for respite.

The quintessence of this land, this experience that first year has never left me.

One of my favorite pastimes was taking long walks on the land every day in the true communion with nature. There was a switchback, the back entry to the property which began near the back of the cabin and snaked its way up to the top where, for a time, our mailbox was located.

I loved to walk up to get the mail. Each bend of the road held a special beauty and the view of the river near the top was breathtaking. During the summer, there was a profusion of different wildflowers, Saskatoon berries and two abandoned apple orchards along the way.

The orchards were only a short distance from each other and from the cabin - about 15-minutes walk if I was alone. The first one to see was the lower orchard which was the smaller of the two and was located on the right at the bottom of the switchback.

There was a huge boulder near the edge of the road that was perfect for climbing on or resting against. The ground was covered with bushes, wildflowers, weeds. Several apple trees stood here and the orchard, perched on a cliff, slanted down towards a little valley to overlook Bear Meadow.

Late one beautiful Indian summer day, the sun low in the sky, I decided to take a walk before dinner to visit the lower orchard. The air was still and fragrant with ripening fruit and the pungency of the Ponderosa Pine.

I meandered for a while just breathing in the peace and enjoying the scenery. I sat for a while on the boulder and closed my eyes. Suddenly I became aware that I wasn’t the only visitor and opened my eyes to see a bear in one of the trees several yards away.

He wasn’t very big and looked about half grown. We stared at each other for several long minutes. My heart was pounding. I knew enough not to panic and run but I did stand up very slowly and started to back out of the orchard.

After a few steps, I turned around and took a few more steps before I heard a crashing and the sound of branches breaking. Was he chasing me? I had to know so I looked over my shoulder. No bear in sight.

Apparently he was more afraid of me than I was of him and he had run off. I learned much later that it was in the late afternoons that the bears liked to visit the orchards. I was lucky that he was the only bear as the story would have turned out much differently had I inadvertently come between him and his mother.

This was my first honest to goodness close sighting. There were others but not at such close range. The whole experience was probably no more than five minutes but it seemed much longer.

I was shaky, a bit afraid and in awe of the beauty and power of the wild creatures that roamed the countryside.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Comments (3) | Permalink | Email this post